This week, the Crookston InMotion stewardship team met to share ideas further needed to drive the Crookston InMotion process forward. Having focused on four “Destiny Drivers” (Expanding Housing in Crookston, Expanding Economic Opportunity, Downtown Housing Vitality, and Sustainability) in recent meetings, it was time for a full-group discussion on sustaining, building upon and accelerating progress.
According to Tom Jorgens, steward and convener, the purpose of the meeting could be condensed into "implementation and the way forward."
Housing in Crookston was the first topic of discussion with talk of needing a "carrot" for investors to want to purchase and renovate existing housing structures. Lots with a tax abatement from the city may not be all that appealing to investors who want to quickly flip a house. Stewards feel there is a need for a more creative marketing strategy and are open to ideas from the community.
The City of Crookston plans to have the free housing lots on Barrette Avenue ready for ownership by the week of May 13 or shortly into the following week. Mayor Dave Genereux suggested the need for more information for future homeowners regarding building, financing and insurance. This stemmed an idea to host a yearly home show, beginning next January or February. Dan Svedarsky plans to take the lead in developing options for future home shows. An information session featuring a few local vendors could possibly be put in place sometime this May as a support effort for up-coming homebuilders.
Economic opportunities in Crookston were discussed. Several meeting attendees felt the town's labor force is a barrier to economic development. Many highly skilled and/or those with advanced education are already employed, leaving new businesses with a labor pool of less experienced individuals. In addition, businesses, such as DigiKey in Thief River Falls, pull from Crookston's available workforce. Adding jobs to Crookston and enticing residents to work in the town in which they live continues to be a challenge.
Downtown Crookston will see some positive changes this summer. After soil samples can be taken, construction will start on a structure at the Downtown Square. The land formerly occupied by the Wayne Hotel is almost ready for paving, benches and landscaping. Polk County currently owns a 25 foot strip of the property, which will be put up for auction. The City of Crookston plans to purchase this piece of land and begin construction as soon as possible.
In speaking about sustainability efforts, Svedarsky said, "We were very lucky to have as much snow as we did to cover our soil. We're treating soil like dirt by removing windbreaks and allowing for erosion. This allows phosphorus from soil to leach into water systems and spread pollution into many bodies of water." The sustainability committee will continue their efforts to make Crookston a better place to live and work, he said.
Page 2 of 2 - Finally, Jorgens expressed the need to have more active volunteers take part in the Crookston InMotion efforts. He felt strong community leadership is the key to really getting things done and moving forward with the group's initiatives.
The next large group Crookston InMotion stewardship team meeting will be held Tuesday, June 11 at 7 a.m. at Valley Technology Park. Everyone is welcome.